Catch Up and Ketchup

…random notes on what is happening…

Ketchup- on macaroni.  A Swedish staple. Can you imagine?  (Jamie, you are not alone.)

Bikes-  We all have bikes and the girls have helmets.  As Kurt needs the car to get to work everyday, (only  15 minutes,on days that I need the car I drive him) the girls and I cycle to school. It takes about 15 minutes to get to Lily’s school and another 5 minutes into town for Yarrows.  You are required to have lights on your cycles and many people wear a bright green construction style vest as well.  Most children wear a helmet, most adults do not. Locks are needed as well.  Yarrow and my bikes were purchased from a friend of Conny’s who buys, sells and barters stuff.  Sometimes when you buy a TV or other items they throw in a free bike. If you really didn’t need or want a bike, then maybe there’s a guy in Karlstad who would trade you something for it.  The bikes are much nicer then what we have at home.  I wonder if they will fit in the suitcase?

Erik the Red- Our Volvo.  He is named after the Swede who “discovered” Greenland.  He is also Leif Erickson’s father.  A warning light has turned on on the dash.  Just like the Windstar at home!

Mia, Martin, Hilda, (3.5) Ingrid (4ish) and Ulf and Berit, Mia’s father and mother-  We have been to dinner at Mia and Martin’s house, the family that had hoped to house swap with us.  (We got lucky with our plans and they did not.  This way we get to spend some real time with these great people.)  The entrée was moose (moose is spelled alg, 2 small dots above the “a” and pronounced sort of like “elly”) cut thin and rolled around plums or a spicy cheese and stewed in a rich broth with wild mushrooms.  Fabulous.  We contributed sauteed Kantarells (Chantrelles) that Martin and I found in the forest, while preparing for the moose hunt.  Mia is the textile teacher at Yarrows school and she will be helping me to get started weaving.  She has a loom she is willing to borrow me for year.  Betsey hopes to set it up in the apartment.  Martin was working in Norway on a oil rig.  Big money is to be made in Norway.  He works as an Industrial climber on the rig for two weeks and then is home for four weeks.   

Earlier this summer, Martin and a friend ascended to the peak of Mt. Eiger in Switzerland.  They chose to climb the North Face in summer, a dangerous feat due to the retreating icefields and falling rocks.  This route was described in 1938 as “an obsession for the mentally deranged” and has claimed as many as 60 lives.  There are still bodies on the mountain and this climbing pair had to step around some of them to make their climb. Check out the mountain at

Mia reminds me very much of my cousin, Beth Palmquist, sharing her laugh, voice and her lighthearted presence.  It is an uncanny resemblance.  Beth lived in Stockholm for some years and was the first person to teach me how to say thank you in Swedish (Tack).

We attended a Fall Harvest gathering at Brunskog last Saturday with Mia and the two girls.  The Harvest Fest was an interesting combination of flea market items and handmade birch bark and wooden items.  We ate a traditional Loggers meal of a tough but tasty bacon and a meaty tasting gruel.  (Kurt and I at least, the girls ate hot dogs (varm korv).

Kantarells (Chantrelles), plums and other produce at Brunskog

Homemade Saft (fruit drink concentrate)



Homemade Saft (fruit drink concentrate) and Sylt (jams) for sale. We bought Rose Saft, which is surprisingly drinkable.












A relief carving from Brunskog.  A wide variety of traditional wood and bark-craft items were displayed.

A relief carving from Brunskog. A wide variety of traditional wood and bark-craft items were displayed.


The knut (joint) in this very old log structure at Brunskog is almost identical in appearance to some of the work that I have done, here.  The differences between Swedish and Norwegian styles are mostly internal.

The knut (joint) in this very old log structure at Brunskog is almost identical in appearance to some of the work that I have done, here. The differences between Swedish and Norwegian styles are mostly internal.

The weather-  Kurt has been keeping tack of sunny days since his arrival here August 8th.  SEVEN.  7.  SEVEN. Enough said.  Its gray and wet, again, today.



Grocery Shopping-  $400 american dollars later and I was able to make an apple pie, Kurt made bread and we ate a sit down meal at our new apartment.  There is something so satisfying about filled cupboards.  We had hoped to pick Lingonberrys with Mia on Monday night, however, it was raining.  Of course.

Apples-  Most homes have at least one apple tree, many have many more.  It appears that most of the apples are winter apples that are inedible until they have sat for several months in a dark cool place.  As most do not do this, there are rotten apples on the street, on the lawns..  We have a apple tree at our place that is tasty when picked, as well as a plum tree.

The Rotary- When I was here 24 years ago, I was sponsored by the Duluth Rotary Club.  The partner Rotary club is here in Arvika.  I was asked to speak to them and talk about how it is that I am back living in Arvika.  Karen, my former host mother, came along with me.  I brought maple candies along for them to taste.  Before we left, Kurt made hundreds of candies from the syrup we had from last year to bring along as gifts.  The talk went well.  I, of course, being the anal being that I am, wrote the darn thing out before hand so it was fresh and easy to say.  The editor from the Arvika Nyhetter was there as well, and today a reporter from the newspaper came and interviewed us.  Friday’s edition, along with a photo!

Fasting (with 2 dots above the “a”) and Borrelia.  (Ticks and Lyme’s disease.)-  Kurt was bit by a tick 3-4 weeks ago and has been feeling poorly.  Today we went to the doctor and it appears that he has received a not so nice gift from Sverige.  He is on penicillin and is resting up.  

Our apartment is lovely.  Large and spacious (maybe cause we have so little furniture?)  The girls, to their great disappointment, share a room.  A piece of tape cuts the room in half.  Some furniture was left for us by Jennie, another of Betsey’s host siblings (off to school north of here) and the lovely and giving Gustafson Family and Mia have shared many other pieces.  We have a TV, unlike at home.   In Sweden you can purchase a cable package or purchase a box that allows you access to 4-6 channels.  We have chosen the latter.  The thought is that we can learn Swedish by reading the subtitles during English language programs or by watching programming in Swedish. Isn’t that just a lovely rationale?  


Camilla with one of several platters of Crayfish and Shrimp.

Camilla with one of several platters of Crayfish and Shrimp.

Traditions-  We have enjoyed the first of hopefully many more Swedish traditions.  Camilla and Anders had a Crayfish (Kraftor – 2 dots above the “a”)  Party.  Traditionally held this time of the year when they harvest crayfish.  Ours came from China. Or Turkey.  Apparently, many years ago, American crayfish, desired because of their large size, were brought over to Sweden.  They decimated the native population with a disease. They are giving up and encouraging the disease-resistant American species. The companion drink to the crayfish is vodka.  It was a fun night.

Lily actually ate the claw meat, but gave away all of her tails.

Lily actually ate the claw meat, but gave away all of her tails.



Patric gives Yarrow crayfish peeling lessons

Patric gives Yarrow crayfish peeling lessons.

Rottneros Park- Anders, Leia, and the three of us (Kurt in the forest preparing for the moose hunt – a blog on that later) spent a lovely day at Rottneros Park.  This park features trails, flowers, statues, a large trampoline, wooden pirate ship, wooden tree house and much more.


One of hundreds of statues at Rottneros Park.

One of hundreds of statues at Rottneros Park.


Yarrow, Lily and Leia at Rottneros Park

Yarrow, Lily and Leia at Rottneros Park

 Caught up!



5 Responses to “Catch Up and Ketchup”

  1. Jenny Bushmaker Says:

    It looks like you are having so much fun Betsey…please send the girls our love and tell Kurt hi from us. Tell Lily I got her email when we got home from vacation last week and I need to email that girl back! I haven’t forgotten her!! 🙂

    Love, Jen

  2. Jenny Bushmaker Says:

    Ps….I think the whole ketchup thing is so funny…Jason grew up doing this and it always made me laugh!

  3. Phyllis Says:

    Kurt, when I was a kid, your grandmother used to feed us a creamy macaroni that we would douse with ketchup, stirring it into a rather revolting pinkish mass. In the potato eating culture of my youth, this and a predictable hotdish of goulash were the only pasta we ever had.

    You can join my informal Lyme’s Disease club–includes your cousin Tom Marden, Uncle Doug, and myself. Hope you feel better soon.

  4. Jocelyn Says:

    What a swing! I am enjoying your tales and photos to an outrageous extent. Keep ’em coming.

    Crabapples are crazy here on our tree out front (kind of strange, as our sunflowers are reaching their peak simultaneously), and it’s felt like Complete Fall for two weeks. We miss you.


  5. Blind Squirrel Says:

    I can totes see where you might eat only the claws and not the tails on something that looks essentially like a big bug. After all,you can see where the claw ends and becomes something else; but the tail…

    I caught the graduation party at Smud’s, but no Meads or Meadlets! And Sonja is gone. The boys were there, but were bummed because Pete hid the sodium. The grease bombs were spectacular.

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